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LightZone 3

Image management and editing tool By John Virata

LightZone from LightCrafts is a combination photo management and photo editor designed specifically for digital photographers. The application, available for both Macintosh and Windows, and works in 16-bit linear color space, supports non-destructive editing, has been available for about two years and occupies a niche (to me at least) that is currently being contested with Apple (Aperture) and Adobe Systems (Lightroom). As such, the application remains a bit un-noted to mainstream digital photographers, but that is not for its lack of power, because it has plenty of it, along with some features not found in competing products.

Within this first look, I'll be taking a look at the workflow of LightZone, the interface, will go over both the Edit and Browse tabs, and will explore the ZoneFinder, which is unique to the application. For this review, I tested the software on a 2.2GHz matte screen MacBook Pro with 2GB RAM. The images were captured with a Canon Digital Rebel camera with an 18- 55mm and a 75-300mm Canon lens.

Workflow and Interface-Browse
When you first launch LightZone, the main interface details both the Browse and Edit Tabs, as well as the viewing Window and the image window below. To the right is the Info tab which includes the Metadata for the image open in the main window. To populate these windows, you simply select an image from a folder on your hard drive(s),  or network. LightZone will fill the main window, Metadata window and browse strip with the images in the selected folder. The image in the main window will be highlighted in the browse strip below. Selecting another image in the browse strip will bring it up to the main window.

Browse window with Explorer at left, Metadata at right.

From the Browse window, you can perform several tasks to your image. You can orient them, rate them, delete them from the browse strip, stack like images, email the images, and even convert them. When you convert images, LightZone enables you to convert RAW files to JPEG and TIFF format. You can also set the image quality as well as the pixels per inch.


Another feature in the Browse window is the capability to apply styles to your images. Styles enable you to make quick tweaks to an image without having to go into the Edit window. LightZone provides for a range of styles, each with their own style subsets, including Black and White, Detail Enhancement (local contrast, SLR sharpen), High Contrast, High Dynamic Range, Looks, and Toning.


Varying types of Toning is available

As you edit your images and save them, LightZone saves them to a JPEG format that can be opened with any application that works with JPEG files. What the software does do though is save it as a LightZone JPEG, saving the editing that you applied to the image. According to the company, it refers to the original file, which remains unedited. When you reopen the file in LightZone, the changes previously made to the file are restored, and you can continue making adjustments to the image.

The Edit Window is where the LightZone tools get interesting. When you launch the Edit window, the Styles and History tabs are located to the left, while the ZoneFinder, Sampler, and Histogram tabs are located to the right of the main image window.

Edit window

Edit Window with region masked for Relighting.


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Related Keywords:image editing, image management, digital photography, Raw editing,


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